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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

More abnormal antlers

After Martins post a few days ago about the abnormal antlers of some of the muntjac we have seen over the past few years I though I would share a few more odd antlers I have seen to prepare you for the article I promised as part of our bushscience series all about how antlers grow and exactly what they are.

Very recently, just last Tuesday I saw this Fallow Buck while observing deer on Cannock Chase with a group of students as part of their deer management course, now I can't claim to have taken the pictures of this first deer myself, they come courtesy of Graeme one of the students observing the deer with me on this occasion, you may already have read his account of a trip to Riddy Wood and his first deer stalk on the Bushcraft Education blog recently.

What you will see in this picture is not a buck with only one antler but rather a buck with one broken antler, this may even be the reason he is hanging out with this group of does, he may have broken the other antler in a fight back during the rut or been clipped by a car and now that the rut is over is taking shelter with this group of does rather than with the bachelors. This next picture shows more clearly the extent of the damage.

You can clearly see here that the left antler has broken off just above the 'brow tine' that is the first point on the antler. The other potential explanation may be that this antler was damaged while it was growing and for some reason didn't fully develop.

This next picture is my own though. I took it while working in New Zealand on a deer farm and although it isn't as clear from this picture as we cut the deer antlers off on deer farms, partly because the 'velvet' from the antlers could be sold and partly because handling deer at close quarters when they have massive pointy bits of bone on the top of their head is a recipe for some fairly horrendous injuries. In fact while I worked in New Zealand a farmer on another farm not far away was killed by an antlered stag which gored him through the abdomen.

You can see in this picture though that the stubs of his antlers are not exactly symmetrical, one points strait up as you would expect and the other points out to one side. This happened because the previous year, while he was growing his first set of antlers he had got caught in a fence and broken off the antler so severely that it damaged the 'pedicle' the bone on the top of the skull where the antler grows from to the extent that a large piece of it came away with the broken antler so instead of growing upwards the next time the antler grew out to the side. 

There are all sorts of potential deformations that can be observed in deer antlers so here is a simple question for you, the first person to get the correct answer to me via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or in the comments below before the post on antlers comes out in 48 hours wins a set of Chinese Water Deer Tusks.

The Question is; What is a 'perruque' antler?

Look forward to hearing from you


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